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China appoints new ministers; Yang Jiechi is new State Councillor

world Updated: Mar 16, 2013 21:04 IST
Sutirtho Patrnobis

China on Saturday appointed new finance, commerce, defence and foreign ministers as part of the country’s new State Council or cabinet formally bringing to an end the transition in government that began in November.

Former foreign minister, ; Yang Jiechi, was appointed to the post of State Councillor (SC).

It is being speculated that he is likely to take over from outgoing SC Dai Bingguo as the Special Representative (SR) for the ongoing border talks with India.

Dai was China’s SR for the talks since 2003 when the mechanism was introduced.

In the last decade, when Dai was at the helm of the border talks, he negotiated with four top Indian officials -- Brajesh Mishra, JN Dixit, MK Narayanan and Shiv Shankar Menon.

Diplomatic sources said that it is unlikely that the new dispensation will introduce changes to ongoing polices; a strong strand of continuity was expected.

On Saturday, the Communist Party of China-ruled country’s rubber-stamp Parliament, the National People’s Congress also endorsed four new Vice-Premiers and five new State Councillors.

China appointed Lou Jiwei as the country's new finance minister and Gao Hucheng as new commerce minister Parliament also voted in Xu Shaoshi as head of the state economic planning body, the National Development and Reform Commission. Xu was previously China's land and resources minister.

The new foreign and defence ministers are Wang Yi and Chang Wangquan respectively.

In a late Friday night phone conversation with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, new Premier Li Keqiang said China and India were the “two largest Asian powers…and emerging economies.”

State-run Xinhua quoted Li as saying that “…the two countries, by enhancing their cooperation, can expand their space for development, and increase common interests so as to facilitate a sustainable economic and social development and help the world order and system advance in a just and reasonable direction.”

“China will, as always, attach great importance to its relations with India, and would like to work with the country to promote their relations of strategic cooperation and partnership to a new stage,” Li was quoted as having said.

Singh, according to state media, said bilateral ties over the past few years have seen a comprehensive development and continuous progress in cooperation and exchanges in various fields.

The new Vice-Premiers appointed were Zhang Gaoli, Liu Yandong, Wang Yang and Ma Kai., Besdies Yang Jiechi, Yangt Jing, Chang Wanquan, Guo Shengkun and Wang Yong were named State Councillors.